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4.9 12
by Robert Elmer

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Caught Between a Charade and the Truth.

Jamie D. Lane is many things: multi-talented, handsome–and the most sought-after pop star in the world. But there’s one thing he isn’t–happy. At the height of his singing career, a family tragedy stops him in his tracks. And in an effort to settle a private matter and put the past behind


Caught Between a Charade and the Truth.

Jamie D. Lane is many things: multi-talented, handsome–and the most sought-after pop star in the world. But there’s one thing he isn’t–happy. At the height of his singing career, a family tragedy stops him in his tracks. And in an effort to settle a private matter and put the past behind him, Jamie cuts his trademark blonde curls, assumes a new identity, and secretly slips away from his celebrity lifestyle and heads to the Pacific Northwest in cognito. But what he finds in small town Washington could open up Jamie’s future–and change him forever.

A teacher to inner city kids and former high school track star, Anne Stewart had once believed she could change the world. Then a near-fatal accident left her grappling with both the devastating effects of head injury and deep bitterness toward the drunk driver who crippled her. When a man she knows as “Joe Bradley” hits town, however, he unexpectedly helps to restore her self-confidence and passion for life. But when the scope of The Celebrity’s deception becomes clear to Anne, will it be too much to forgive?

Can The Celebrity Reveal His True Identity–
Without Losing Everything?

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Praise for The Celebrity:

“I loved this book.  I loved it, I loved it, I loved it. A beautiful story, built around characters that take up residence in your heart.  Robert Elmer has become one of my favorite authors.” 
–Patricia H. Rushford, author of The Angel Delaney Mysteries and The McAllister Files

“Robert Elmer invades the secret places of his characters’ public lives.  He turns them inside out enough for us to find our own  longings, questions, anger–selves–among the pages. And in doing so, he makes one thing blissfully clear in The Celebrity: we can try to run away from our circumstances, but we cannot run away from a God who loves us.  It is God’s desire to make us whole.”
–Charlene Ann Baumbich, author of the Dearest Dorothy series

“As charming and delightful as a beloved black and white movie, The Celebrity will make you yearn for simpler times and quieter days, and for those small towns that still hold true to the values so many of us adore.  A lovely romantic story with a fun premise!”
–Rene Gutteridge, author of The Splitting Storm, BOO, and BOO WHO

“The Celebrity is a tale of two lost souls who find connection and meaning in a small town. It is a story of hope, of looking beyond yourself for purpose. Here cynicism melts in the face of kindness. Anger fades in the act of giving. A worthy read. I highly recommend it.”
–Traci DePree, best-selling author of A Can of Peas and Dandelions in a Jelly Jar

“Robert Elmer gives us what we love—a story with small town flavor brimming with characters we cheer for and a plot that doesn’t quit. Readers of The Celebrity will have just one thing to say—‘More, please!’”
–Lois Richer, author of Forgotten Justice

“Robert Elmer’s new book, The Celebrity, reminds us of the important things: that life isn’t always fair, that even Christians struggle, that God is in the second chance business, and above all, that grace comes from unexpected places. This is one sweetheart of a story. Way to go, Bob.”
–Thom Lemmons, author of Jabez: A Novel, Sunday Clothes, and King’s Ransom (with Jan Beazely)

“Prepare to burn the midnight oil! The Celebrity has it all–characters so real I laughed, cried, and rejoiced with them; a storyline so honest it could have been taken straight out of today’s headlines; a small town so charming I want to move there.  Anne and Jamie will live on in your heart long after the last page is turned.”
–Diane Noble, author of The Last Storyteller and Phoebe

“Bob Elmer’s The Celebrity tackles difficult questions: What is success? How does one find it? Is it worth the trouble? Jamie becomes Everyman as he seeks the answers. But watch out for the twist at the end!”
–Lyn Cote, author of The Women of Ivy Manor Series

“Robert Elmer hits a home run with The Celebrity. Like The Duet, this is a ‘close the cover, give a contented sigh, and think about the characters for the rest of the day’ kind of book. I loved it!”
–Deborah Raney, author of A Nest of Sparrows and Playing by Heart

“I jumped on this book, knowing Robert Elmer had never disappointed me with any of his previous work. The unusual heroine invaded my heart from the start. I rooted for The Celebrity living incognito as he deals with his mother’s death. Add the monks who make fruitcake and the delightful quotes at the start of each chapter, and you have another winner from a gifted storyteller.”
–Donita K. Paul, award-winning author of Dragonspell

“Robert Elmer has penned an enthralling tale of two people struggling to be ‘normal.’ One is fighting her way back from devastating personal loss, and the other simply wants to reclaim himself from the demands of fame and publicity. Elmer mixes in a monastery, a thief, and a donut-making machine to create a world you’ll hate to leave.”
–Janelle Clare Schneider, author

“A celebration of life when two strangers–flawed and hurting–discover the welcoming embrace of a small town. Hope. Laughter. A second chance.”
–Doris Elaine Fell, author of Betrayal in Paris and The Trumpet at Twisp

Product Details

The Crown Publishing Group
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x 0.63(d)

Read an Excerpt

Fame lost its appeal for me when I went into a public restroom and an autograph seeker handed me a pen and paper under the stall door.
Five minutes, Jamie.” The stage manager hurried through the set with his clipboard, brushing the red-velvet curtain as he flew by. Jamie took his place and let the sound tech adjust his headset-style wireless mike as once more he mentally ran through the words of their opening number: a jazzier updated version of an old choral favorite.

I will not cease from mental fight, nor shall my sword sleep in my hand, till we have built Jerusalem in England’s green and pleasant land.

Okay, got it. They wanted British; he could do British. Around him members of the London Symphony Orchestra adjusted their instruments, while 103 red-and-white-robed kids from the Oxford Boys’ Choir fidgeted on special risers set up behind him.

Ready? The choir director glanced his way and adjusted his headset as Jamie returned the nod. They’d been promised a larger than usual audience for this special summer coproduction with the BBC and one of the big East Coast public broadcasting stations, WNET, New York. We’ll see. But even Nick had told him over and over how the crowd would eat it up.

Maybe agents were supposed to say that kind of thing. But Mom would have loved it, a few years back. Now they might wheel her in front of the TV set and tell her that her boy was singing, again. In England, no less. Live from London on the Fourth of July. Look, they’re going to sing a special arrangement of “God Save the Queen,” combined with him singing the American song “My Country, ’Tis of Thee,” which of course shared the same tune. And then his mother would stare blankly at the wooden man on the screen who had long ago lost the thrill but had become very good at faking it. She would not see the puppet strings that made Jamie’s arms wave and his jaw move up and down while they lifted the corners of his mouth in a Pinocchio smile.

“Four minutes. Choir ready?”

Jamie took his place and tried to breathe in the excitement the way he once did. Only now it was like trying to suck oxygen at the top of Mount Everest. And as he gasped for life before the curtain went up, he tried not to remind himself of everything he’d left behind.

It had been Mom’s idea to enter him in the North Angeles Young Talent Show fifteen years ago. Him and a couple hundred girls, which he thought was very cool at the time and which probably helped him stand out from the crowd a little more. What happened to his competition? He didn’t know it at the time, but most boys’ voices don’t mature until the guys are in their twenties. And male singers don’t hit their peak until age thirty.

Except Jamie D. Lane, who at age seventeen came on like a young, blond Frank Sinatra and blew away the judges with his clear-as-a-bell, soulful delivery. And right from the start he knew his mother had been right, that he’d been given The Gift: an amazing set of pipes that did everything he asked them to do, and more. The trick soon became figuring out what to ask of them.

“I told you so! I told you so!” Mom had fallen apart in front of everybody when he’d collected the grand prize, a five-hundred-dollar U.S. Savings Bond he’d had framed. It still hung on the living room wall of his Santa Barbara beach home. Okay, so it was a copy of the bond. Still, it reminded him of the ambitious single mother who had first recognized The Gift and despite all odds just wanted the best for her son.

The best for her son. He could say that now, but not back then. Back then he’d only felt her two hands on his back, pushing him through a maze of singing contests, interviews, and performances. Back then she worked all day as a hotel maid and got home late to make a hot dog or mac-and-cheese dinner for the two of them in their small West Covina apartment. (He never told anybody about the mac-and-cheese details though. Sounded too much like a rags-to-riches cliché in a made-for-TV movie.)

But Mom didn’t know anything about clichés. Back then she’d been too busy saving her nickels, dimes, and tips to pay publicists and managers and voice coaches–people who eventually demanded all of Jamie’s after-school time. People who became his life and eventually convinced him he had no other. In time his real life faded into the past. In time even his friends stopped cruising by his apartment, yelling for him to join them.

“Three minutes, Mr. Lane. How’s your mike?”

Mom used to giggle at how her son used more makeup than she. She teased him about the hairdressers and the handlers. Now she had her own, even if she hardly knew it. Now the fifty-four-year-old skeleton just sat in her wheelchair at the Belle-Aire Convalescent Center and fantasized about the place where she had grown up–this little nothing town in Washington State Jamie had never been to and had no intention of ever visiting.

Riverdale. Sounded like something out of a comic book, a name from the distant past. And that seemed strangely appropriate, seeing as Jamie’s mother over the last year or so had successfully retreated into her own past. She called her nurses imaginary names such as Jasper and Maryanne and wondered why Virge was late delivering the milk. Anytime now, Mrs. Lane. Then she worried who would feed her chickens, until the nurses assured her that it was all taken care of as well. Even worse–if there could be worse–they all knew that as early-onset Alzheimer’s robbed her of her mind, emphysema would strip away whatever was left.

And yet Jamie watched from a distance, knowing that no amount of money could change a thing about his mother’s condition. He could pay the thirty-five hundred dollars a month for her care at the Belle-Aire, but in her mind she would still be living in their five-hundred-a-month apartment back in West Covina, with the harvest gold linoleum and the lime shag carpet and the olive green refrigerator that never kept things cool. Of course she hadn’t lived there in years, but she seemed to prefer the memory –even over the nice condo he’d bought her before they’d had to move her into the Belle-Aire. Some things didn’t change, couldn’t change.

So Mom coughed a lot, and they didn’t know how much longer she would live. Through the summer, maybe not that long. Meanwhile Jamie could only keep writing the checks for the most expensive nursing care in the San Fernando Valley.

As if that would make up for what he’d never said. He did forgive her for pushing him into the spotlight that had sucked away his life. Even so, he had to hate the crippling disease that had sucked away hers. And he couldn’t help resenting her just a little for checking out too early, far too early.

“In thirty seconds, please.” If nothing else, the British stage crew seemed to have their act together, so while Jamie daydreamed, he let them be as efficient as they wanted to be. But the note they’d brought him just before rehearsal only reminded him of everything he’d never said to Mom, so he crumpled it into a tight little ball, tighter and tighter.

“Are you quite all right, Mr. Lane?”

Jamie shook the cobwebs from his mind, tried to focus on the now, tried to forget the words of the e-mail from the nursing home supervisor.

“I’m ready.” He wasn’t sure he’d convinced anyone. Still, the picture of his mother staring at the big-screen TV would not leave him. He thought he saw her reflection in the lens of a boom camera swinging into place. Seconds later he noticed her face in the front row of the theater audience, so he closed his eyes until the lights hit, the music came up, and the applause began.

“Live, from the historic Prince Albert Hall in London…” A timpani roll backed up the very British announcer. “It’s a Hands-Across-the-Atlantic Patriotic Extravaganza, featuring the American mezzo-soprano Jolene DuBois…”

Jamie let the intro fade away to background until the little green light on the camera told him he was on and his mother was watching from the Belle-Aire. Normally she didn’t miss it; he’d made sure his publicity people had faxed the home a local schedule with airtimes and channels. So normally, yes, she would be watching–if one could be allowed a rather loose definition of the word. At least she would be facing the television, and it would be tuned to the right channel. Only this time…

“…and the incomparable Jamie D. Lane!”

This time he reacted on pure instinct, singing through the applause and the cheering, the opening numbers with the choir and orchestra. And of course he added his signature blend: a little bit of pop, a little bit of opera, the way Mom had taught him. Last month one of the nurses at the rest home told him Mom had clapped after watching him perform “This Is the Moment” for a Good Morning America concert in New York City. So he sang to her after the introductions and the orchestral interludes with the big finishes. And he remembered the time she had stood in the kitchen, back when he was fifteen or sixteen, listening quietly to him practice over and over.
“You’re singing from here.” She had stepped up and pointed to his lips. “Sing from here, instead.” With that she had rested her gentle hand on his heart–her own pledge of allegiance.

That was a long time ago, but how could he forget? So for the first time in years, he poured what remained of his heart into the songs, one after the next, until he had no heart left, only his hand to cover the spot where it had once beaten.

That’s it, Mom. I sure hope you were watching, ’cause that’s all I’ve got.

By then Jolene DuBois arrived to revive the program. But the “Hands Across the Waters” duet slipped through his fingers when he missed one of his cues, and then he didn’t remember actually singing “God Save the Queen” with his singing partner. As far as Jamie was concerned, God could save her or not, and it didn’t really matter either way.

All he really remembered was apologizing silently and holding Jolene’s hand afterward as they bowed together and smiled. How could the audience not like it? Or rather, her. His performance had quickly slipped into amateur night at the karaoke bar.

Mercifully, only two songs remained after Jolene left the stage. So when at last he stood alone in the spotlight, he knew the orchestra strings were due back in four beats, just as they had rehearsed. He also knew he should have let it happen, just like everything else up to that point in the program.

But the tears streaming down his face wouldn’t let him, and even Nick had told him a little emotion was good. A strategic tear or two would be fine once in a while, if he could manage it. Emotion sells records, kid. Connect with the audience. Listen to your manager.

But this? Jamie willed himself not to look backstage, where Nick had surely dropped his jaw on the floor. The orchestra played gamely on even as the conductor glared at Jamie over and again. Shall we try this once more, please? Jamie took another breath, but whatever had stopped him still held his lips in check and his voice in a vise grip.

And for the first time he could remember, he looked out into a deathly quiet sea of faces…and envied them.

That older couple, there in the front row: They would return home after the show, without the permission of their agent, perhaps with the young girl seated beside them. A granddaughter? He stared at them through the white glare and wondered if they might not agree to trade places with him for just a couple of days. In fact, for a moment he seriously thought about walking over to them and making them an offer. You come deal with Nick and the firestorm of critics sure to consume him after this performance from purgatory. I’ll take the Underground train home to your comfortable little flat in a comfortable little London suburb, where the dog will be waiting with his tail wagging, ready for a quiet walk in the rain before bed.

A fair swap? Instead, he closed his eyes for a moment, took a deep breath, and unplugged his microphone headset. The crowd gasped as he shuffled across the stage, over to where the orchestra conductor stood staring, his arms now at his sides. Jamie took up a smaller mike perched on a stand by the wind section. He took another deep breath and looked straight at the older couple.

“I’m sorry,” he whispered. “I guess I…”

He sighed and rubbed his eyes with a free hand. In the sudden stillness of the ornate Prince Albert, he might not have needed amplification. Someone coughed from several rows back. And he knew of course that he would not be going home to the comfortable, anonymous flat in South Kensington. So he glanced at the unblinking camera once again, wishing he had a signal or something that would get through to his mother. A tug on the ear, a wink, anything. “Hey, Mom, I made it. You okay?” He might have shouted at her if it would have done any good. Instead, he turned from the stage and simply stepped out of the light, his footsteps echoing in the shocked silence.

So this is what burnout feels like. Utter, poof-I’m-done burnout. He might have stumbled in the darkness had Nick not grabbed him by the arm and hissed in his ear.

“What are you, sick or something?” Sick as in ill, or sick as in crazy? Jamie could guess which one his manager meant. And Nick didn’t let go of him. “You can’t just walk out of the show like that! You’re not done yet!”

Jamie looked back over his shoulder at the pool of light still bathing the orchestra conductor. And really he could not have cared less if no one applauded. Not this time. In fact, it sounded kind of nice, this silence. He’d never heard it like that before. Quiet as a cathedral and just as empty, and he imagined that was quiet enough.

But as he stood watching and Nick stood grousing…there! The first lonely clapping started out with a brave trickle, then a few more joined before it ultimately exploded into thunder. Nick paused long enough to realize what was happening.

“I can’t believe it.” He shook his head and mumbled, barely loud enough to hear over the thunder. “I can’t believe it.”

Granted, this applause probably came more out of sympathy and surprise than appreciation. But it continued on, demanding more, an encore, something Jamie could not give even if he’d had it. Nick even tried to lead him back out, but he dug in his heels.

“No.” Jamie shook his head and broke free, checking again for the crumpled note in his pocket. He knew the way to the back door, back to the hotel. If he left right away, he might be able to get back to the Belle- Aire in time.

Meet the Author

Robert Elmer’s debut novel is The Duet. He has also written five popular youth series, including HyperLinkz, with combined sales of over 650,000 copies. He formerly served as editor for a small weekly newspaper in Washington state, in a town much like the setting for The Celebrity.

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4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Be creative, and i will post contests here.
Guest More than 1 year ago
¿Fame lost its appeal for me when I went into a public restroom and an autograph seeker handed me a pen and paper under the stall door.¿ ¿ Marlo Thomas So begins Robert Elmer¿s heartwarming book, The Celebrity. When Jamie D. Lane, a singer ¿who¿s better than that Groban guy,¿ faces a family tragedy, he realizes the spotlight he basks in nightly might be the headlight of a train bearing down on him. On the edge of a breakdown, and tasked with filling a loved one¿s last request, he disguises himself as ¿Joe Bradley¿ and disappears into small-town America. Then he meets Anne Stewart, the victim of a traumatic brain injury, and his reasons for hiding his identity change. Anne, a teacher and former track star, struggles with anger over the accident that changed her personality and her life. She¿s not the same person she was before, and she can¿t forgive the drunk driver who nearly killed her. Forced to return to her hometown after the accident, she finds a job teaching at the local school, where she finds acceptance with her students in spite of her physical limitations. When ¿Joe¿ starts working for Anne¿s father, he is instantly drawn to Anne. They both fight the attraction: he knows he plans to leave town, and she doubts his ability to love her despite her limitations. Things start to unravel when Joe offers to help Anne with a school project, and she learns more about him than he intends. Will her discovery ruin their relationship or cement it? Elmer does a fantastic job developing the relationship between Jamie and Anne. Both characters seemed so real, I felt as though I might know them from somewhere. I sympathized with Anne as she came to terms with her disability. Jamie¿s search for God touched me, and his kind-hearted nature warmed me. You¿ll be inspired and encouraged by the generosity of the story¿s mysterious Good Samaritan as well. Watch for Robert Elmer¿s next book, The Recital, a sequel to The Duet, due out from Waterbrook June 2006.
MichelleSutton More than 1 year ago
I've always wanted to slip into the mind of a famous person who is truly unhappy with the life they thought they wanted. Through The Celebrity I did just that. Robert Elmer's story is engaging and pulls you right in. You see the world in a different way. The glamorous seems less appealing. The simple things in life have more pull. I enjoyed watching the change in Jamie D. Lane and I cried when he lost his best buddy Barkley. I was very satisfied with the ending and if you read this wonderful story, you will be pleased as well.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Robert Elmer accomplishes in a story what some of us would like to do in reality--go for what our hearts really want. His characters take a deep look at where they are in life, where others want them to be, and where they want to be. Read The Celebrity to find out how Jamie and Anne fill their hearts desire. Good read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This poignant story touched my heart in ways few stories can. Jamie D. Lane, celebrity pop star, relocates incognito in small-town Washington, little knowing the effects this will have on his life. A young teacher, Anne Stewart, is trying not to dwell on her past life, before a near-fatal car crash. She's struggling with effects of her head injury and her deep bitterness toward the drunk driver who crippled her. When Jamie, alias Joe Bradley, comes to town, he helps Anne regain her self-confidence. But will she be able to forgive his deception? This is a must read!
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you want a read that draws you immediately into the story, with characters sympathetic and empathetic, and a plot that won't let you go, then 'The Celebrity' is for you. Robert Elmer's setting in a small town provides an attractive background for the story of two people caught in circumstances beyond their control. 'Just one more chapter' will be your excuse for staying up to read well into the night. Excellent!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Robert Elmer has beautifully woven the lives of two unique characters, Jamie and Anne, into a providentially planned picture. The characters are unique yet not without familiar pain that we all experience in one way or another. Jamie, a famous singer, is looking for what really matters in life. Anne, a local small town teacher is trying to heal from her anger towards the drunk driver who changed her life and all her dreams. With humor, romance, and real life, they are brought together in their searches. Hopeless romantics, like me, will be begging Robert Elmer for a sequel.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Reading Robert Elmer's THE CELEBRITY makes me want to move to a smaller town and enjoy the ambiance and friendliness of days gone by. With gentle humor and poignant insights, Elmer weaves a touching story about what's truly important in this life. Highly recommended!
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Celebrity is a book to curl up with--but get cozy with a comforter and spiced apple cider; you'll want to stay up until the end. This is a story of the courage and determination of two people anxious to find normalcy in complicated lives. For anyone who has ever yearned to return to simpler times, Robert Elmer plunks you right in the middle of Riverdale, a small town that embodies everything wholesome and charming. I loved this book. After rooting for Jamie and Anne page after page, I felt I was bidding a longing farewell to friends as I closed the cover.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Robert Elmer has done a great job transporting us to small-town America and giving us some very memorable characters to enjoy. Jamie and Anne both won my heart. Humorus and romantic, heartwarming and delightful! The characters stayed with me long after I turned the last page and made me wish there was a sequel in the works.
Guest More than 1 year ago
What a wonderful read! Robert Elmer spins a tale that will make the reader laugh and cry. His characters are true-to-life, making the reader feel like they've made new friends. Meeting Anne and Jamie was a delight. Defintitely a book not to be missed.
harstan More than 1 year ago
Internationally renowned singer Jamie D. Lane performs the show of his life live from England, but near the end of the TV broadcast feels a need to see his dying mom. Jamie thinks back to fifteen years ago when his single mom worked as a hotel maid because she believed her beloved son had the ¿gift¿ of voice. He heads to Los Angeles to say goodbye though his mom will not know him due to advanced Alzheimer¿s. Miraculously she asks Jamie to take her home in Riverdale, Washington where her family lived and died. Jamie needs to do this for his mom and for himself so he takes her ashes to be buried in Riverdale, but first cuts his highly recognizable long haired golden mane. In Riverdale, he uses the guise of Bradley. He meets middle school teacher Anne Stewart, who still recovers from a drunken driver smashing into her at 55 MPH. Soon Anne and Jamie fall in love, but he fears what will happen when she learns that he hid his real identity that of a celebrity from her............................... If you have not read the inspirational tales of Robert Elmer you are missing a rousing treat. His latest tale stars two weary and wary people carry baggage. Their growing relationship makes for a fine DUET as each begins to realize what they lacked, caring for someone else who also nurtures them. Though actions by Jamie¿s manager seem to add unneeded suspense, Mr. Elmer provides a character driven inspiring tale that glues heart and soul.......................... Harriet Klausner